When we think about Euskadi, it is automatic to think of the wealth of its lands and the gastronomy that it brings but what is not to be overshadowed are the spectacular wines belonging to the Rioja region or the famous Txakoli.
The history of Basque wines can be linked to the Romans, Phoenicians and Celtiberians, who commercially utilised the vines and its juices. It is from there, we inherited the tradition of the grape harvest, a custom with strong family roots that is celebrated in Rioja Alavesa.
The grape reaches the perfect point of maturation in autumn at which point the entire territory is turned over to its harvest in order to start the production of a new vintage. Thousands of years of tradition which has been passed down through generations and unbreakable teamwork is what maintains the mark of the past with modern and current adaptations.
Tradition is also what makes the precious Txakoli what it is today with its acidic touch characterised by the autochthonous variety hondarribi zuri. Many of these vineyards are located on slopes overlooking the sea of great scenic beauty where it is possible to enjoy activities along with food and wine experiences.
The history of wine has marked the way for many towns in the Basque Country, as they get to know the character of each one, discovering the true experience it offers to lovers of wine and tourism.
On this website, you will find all the information you need to discover the culture of wine in Euskadi https://tourism.euskadi.eus/en/wine-holiday
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by Xavi Domingo
As a foodie, I too have made the “pilgrimage" to the Basque Country, and loved every bite of it.
A few years ago, I took my daughter to Azurmendi which was her first ever visit to a three-star Michelin restaurant. While this was a truly amazing experience, even more memorable were the visits to the small restaurants around San Sebastian and Bilbao. This is where I fell in love with Basque food, the lifestyle, and culture. Now, having the opportunity to work with Sagardi, I am learning what makes the Basque kitchen, and its people so very special.
During my first ever lunch at Sagardi Barcelona, I had the privilege to share a table with Mikel and Iñaki López de Viñaspre and the restaurant’s marketing team. Together we savoured our way through the menu, with Mikel and Iñaki making sure I tasted every quintessential dish, and their accompanying wines! This was a truly epic lunch, and the perfect way to discover what the Basque Country has to offer.
Whilst sharing food in the typical Basque style, the Sagardi team explained in passionate detail, why the restaurant was created and their ambitious plans for the future. They also explained how the variety of the Basque landscape provides an enormous choice of produce which is evident in the range of ingredients used in their dishes. Fresh sheep cheese is sourced from the famous Basque mountains, and organic vegetables and free-range beef from their lower-lying meadows. The valleys offer an outstanding selection of wines and along the extensive coastline there is a bountiful supply of fresh, sustainable fish and shellfish.
On the first night Sagardi opened in Amsterdam I took some friends there expecting the restaurant to be doing the same as other newly-opening restaurants I work with – to be taking it slow and testing its menu, however, I could not be more wrong! Sagardi was already feeling like a well-established favourite, with a bubbly, busy service, and food of the exact same quality as in Barcelona. Even more importantly, the intense pride, hospitality and passion the chefs and the staff showed as they served us, was also the same. It was amazing.
That night I dreamt of Gilda’s for the very first time. Now a recurrent and welcomed occurrence, thank goodness, I now have a little of the Basque Country around the corner…
We are undoubtedly living in a historical moment in which life has been accelerated to unprecedented levels.
This “fast-life” approach, adopted by the likes of Netflix and Amazon, has made immediacy a generalised demand to which we give in, influencing more and more our way of doing things.
We let ourselves be seduced by the comfort of ease and accessibility; but also detachment and a standardization of taste.
With “everything everywhere” you will find that the “everything” ends up being all the same. We propose a return to the old, trusty flavours and way of life, which upon one bite, tells you about the place, its people, their way of living life, their characters, customs and origins.
In our fight against speed and haste, we reclaim the quiet, understated pleasures and enjoy what is slowly simmered rather than microwaved.
What better way to do this than with a good "sofrito" like the flagship recipe of the “xup-xup” from the kitchen cooked without a necessity for hurrying or urgency.
Here we leave you with the recipe for a deeply rich "sofrito" sauce which we would accompany with our Bonito del Norte. A perfect tomato-based recipe to enjoy during the tomato season or can be stored in a bain-marie to enjoy all year round.
1 KG of seasonal tomatoes (we recommend pear or teardrop tomatoes)
1 KG of onions
2 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
· Finely chop the onions and sauté them in extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of salt and brown sugar. Maintain a medium-low heat (160º) and wait for the onion to take on an intense honey colour.
· Chop the garlic cloves and add them to the pan to brown.
· Clean, peel and crush the tomatoes to create a tomato puree texture, add to the pan and lower the heat to simmer.
· Add the bay leaves (or the desired seasoning i.e. chorizo pepper, basil or nutmeg).
· Wait for all the flavours to mix well and for the excess water from the tomatoes and onions to evaporate (do not add additional water).
· Take a moment to enjoy the aroma of the "xup-xup" and help yourself to a glass of wine to whet your appetite and liven up the wait.
· Season the sauce, and if necessary correct the acidity with extra brown sugar.
This coming weekend a 3 day international festival (from 3-5 September) will be held at Tobacco Dock in East London, bringing together some of the world’s best live-fire chefs including our very own Mikel Lz from Viñaspre from our restaurant in Shoreditch.
Meatopia is undoubtedly one of the greatest festivals for meat lovers. A meeting point for different gastronomic cultures who share the same passion of celebrating sustainable, quality meat and fire.
We will be cutting and roasting more than 350kg of our well-known old cow txuleton, which is fast becoming a staple must-eat in the city’s capital.
The continued participation of Sagardi in the last few editions of the festival have been an amazing boost for the international projection of the concept of the Basque txuleton.
A fantastic opportunity to explain to the world why, although the trend is to roast young animals for most, the Basques give gastronomic value to the retired, fat, cattle. And publicize the social, cultural and gastronomic value of txuleton.
When planning a trip, one of the first decisions is to choose between a rural destination in a natural area full of mountains or travel to a place where you can enjoy its endless beaches. But why choose one or the other?
The Basque Route is a proposal that breaks all the schemes, since its 8 stages it offers the opportunity to discover the Basque Country in its entirety: its cities, its nature, its culture, and of course, its spectacular gastronomy.
Each route shows a different facet of our land. You decide which and how many you want to do, you just have to take the guide, your car or motorcycle and... start this new adventure! You set your times.
We leave you a proposal of what to do and see in each one of the routes, showing you the most spectacular places of each stage and focusing, above all, on our gastronomic culture.
Stage 1. Bilbao - Lekeitio
At this stage, you will leave from the great Bilbao, where you cannot miss the opportunity to taste a breakfast consisting of the typical sweets of the city: the butter bun, the rice cake, the Carolina... And once the batteries are charged, you will visit the Mercado de la Ribera, the largest covered market in the world, where besides being able to buy top quality products, gastronomic workshops and cooking classes are taught.
The first stop will be in Getxo, composed of 5 towns (Andra Mari, Algorta, Las Arenas, Neguri and Romo), and known for its beaches, cliffs, and the beautiful Bahía del Abra You can enjoy a nice walk along these 10 kilometres of coastline. One of the highlights is the Old Port of Algorta, where you can enjoy the best pintxos in front of the sea, take the opportunity to eat!
From one coastal town to another, the next station will be Bakio, a town that stands out for its beaches, coves, and palaces, but, above all, for being so close to one of our treasures: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. We suggest you visit the Txakoli Museum - Txakolingunea, where you can taste this wine so characteristic of Euskadi and learn about its peculiarities.
Before leaving for Lekeitio, we recommend you make a quick stop in Gernika to taste one of the most exquisite sweets in the area: theOri-Baltzak from the Bidaguren bakery. The best souvenir you can take with you!
To end this stage, you will arrive in Lekeitio, a beautiful fishing village where a lighthouse, an island, and its beach will leave you speechless. We recommend you have dinner at its cosy port full of restaurants and finish the day with grilled fish!
Stage 2. Lekeitio - Zarautz
This second route starts in Lekeitio, where you can have breakfast in the port overlooking the sea, and if you go during the week, you will see how they unload fresh fish and put it on sale in a small stand in front of the Prim grill or in front of the fish market.
From Lekeitio you will set off for Ondarroa, a coastal town with an emblematic old quarter full of medieval streets with a seafaring flavour. Here you can enjoy a simulation of buying and selling fish in the new fishermen's guild run by Kresaltartin Turismo Neskatillak, where they will explain how they carried out this arduous job.
Next, you will leave Bizkaia to discover the sweetest part of Gipuzkoa, stopping in Azpeitia to tasteIgnacios, a dessert made with almonds, puff pastry and cream that will captivate you. The next stop will be in Zumaia, where as well as visiting the flysch paradise, the Geopark, you can take a gastronomic guided tour. And if you go in September, take note, because on the 19th Octopus Day is celebrated on Itzurun beach, where part of the seriesGame of Thrones was filmed.
Then, you should discover the town of Getaria, another charming fishing village in the province of Gipuzkoa. Once there, we recommend a stroll around the port and recover your energy in one of its restaurants. Afterwards, we recommend a visit to Gaintza, a txakoli winery where you can take part in tastings and guided tours.
You will finish this second stage in Zarautz, where, once you have walked along its beautiful boardwalk, you will enter its usual atmosphere to taste its most delicious pintxos.
Stage 3. Zarautz - San Sebastián
Once you have had breakfast and a leisurely stroll around Zarautz, take the car or motorbike and drive to Orio. At this stage, you will learn how to cook grilled sea bream, Orio style! And best of all, you will be able to taste it. If it is Friday, you'll do it at the Xixario Restaurant or Orioko Barra…
The next stop is Hondarribia, where you will be fascinated by the old town and the lively neighbourhood of La Marina. Take a nice stroll before heading off to the next destination!
Set off for Pasaia, a town with a seafaring tradition and an extensive cultural heritage. Here you will visit the Albaola factory, where you can learn about the origins and tradition of the arrantzale and the history of the whalers who travelled overseas. You will also be able to see first-hand how a 16th-century ship was built.
On your way to San Sebastian, you will stop off in this city of cinema. We recommend a long stroll along its beaches and enjoying some pintxos in its lively old town.
Stage 4. San Sebastián – Vitoria-Gasteiz
After having breakfast on a terrace overlooking the sea in San Sebastian, we recommend you take a gastronomic tour or workshop in one of the activity companies of Euskadi Gastronomika.
You will then set off for Astigarraga, the birthplace of cider. We recommend a walk to get to know the town and have lunch in one of its famous cider houses. Once your belly is full, what better than shopping? Stop off in Tolosa and take a stroll around its traditional market where you can take guided tours and, if it's Saturday, buy typical local products. However, you can't leave Tolosa without first buying its most famous sweets: cigarettes and tiles.
After buying some gifts for your closest people, drive to Ordizia, where you will find the D'elikatuz Food and Gastronomy Centre, where you can learn more about our gastronomy.
The next plan is related to cheese, the famous Idiazabal. You can find out how it is made and taste it at the Cheese Interpretation Centre in Idiazabal, a village with spectacular natural landscapes.
Leave Idiazabal behind and head for Vitoria-Gasteiz. Take a nice walk around its marvellous streets full of history and murals and enjoy a good selection of pintxos to end the day.
Stage 5. Vitoria-Gasteiz – Laguardia
In the morning, have breakfast in the gastro bars of the Plaza de Abastos in Vitoria-Gasteiz and enjoy the daily hustle and bustle of this modern market.
The next stop will be in Salvatierra/Agurain, surrounded by forests of impressive beech trees and with an old town of artistic interest. In this municipality, you will have the opportunity to learn first-hand how craft beer is brewed by visiting Olbea Pilsner.
Before leaving for Elciego, we recommend you stop for lunch at a restaurant in the Llanada Alavesa. Once in Elciego, in the south of the Rioja Alavesa, you will be welcomed by the majestic forms of Frank Gehry's hotel in the Ciudad del Vino, where you will also be able to visit the Marqués de Riscal winery. In Rioja Alavesa you will find a multitude of plans and experiences around the world of wine, not only visiting some of its numerous wineries, but also strolling and even having lunch among the vineyards, visiting the cellars or tastings with the winemakers themselves.
To end the day, we suggest you have a light dinner in Laguardia and take a walk through its streets at dusk.
Stage 6. Laguardia – Orduña
You will wake up in Laguardia, a walled town and capital of Rioja Alavesa. After breakfast and an early morning stroll, drive to Salinas de Añana to discover Valle Salado. Once at the interpretation centre, you can book a guided tour to learn more about its history and tradition, and you can even buy salt-related products.
Take the opportunity to have lunch in Añana before heading to Orduña, where you can book a guided tour with tasting in one of its wineries. It is a town declared a historic-monumental site, so get lost in its historic quarter and enjoy its many monuments.
To end the day, you can have dinner in one of its traditional restaurants or opt for a light dinner of pintxos.
Stage 7. Orduña – Bilbao
Have breakfast in one of Orduña's pastry shops and then set off for the Salto de Nervión, one of the most spectacular views that nature has to offer. Take a nice walk to make yourself hungry!
After expending energy, it is time to recover, and what better plan than a visit to a chocolate shop? Make a stop in Balmaseda and visit Kaitxo, where you can try their star products. Take the opportunity to get to know the town and stroll around its medieval streets, and if you're up for it, try its famous putxeras (beans with sacraments). You have got the whole plan!
Nearby, we recommend a visit to the Galdames Winery, where, in addition to learning about Basque wine culture, you can enjoy our tasty wine.
On your way to Bilbao, we suggest you stop in Santurtzi and discover its seafaring flavour, taste a grilled fish or its variety of pintxos, and end the day strolling around the most nocturnal part of Bilbao.
Stage 8. Lekeitio – Vitoria-Gasteiz
Before touring the picturesque fishing village of Lekeitio, you can have breakfast at the Trinkete bar, next to a typical Basque pediment, one of the trinkets where pelota mano is still played.
The next stop will be Abadiño, where you can go to Alluitz Natura and learn more about the wool of the latxa sheep and how to handle their fibre. You can also bring a kit home with you.
After learning more about our culture, you can stop in Durango and stroll around this beautiful town with an interesting architectural heritage. Take the opportunity to have lunch in one of its succulent restaurants.
Next, stop in Olaeta, in the municipality of Aramaio, at the Atxeta cheese dairy owned by the Olympic athlete Maider Unda. You can take a guided tour where you will learn about the peculiarities of the latxa sheep (our native breed), see how cheese is made, and best of all, taste this prized delicacy.
To finish this last stage, head towards Vitoria-Gasteiz and after wandering around this pleasant city, visit one of the typical confectioner's shops to take home a sweet souvenir.
These are our suggestions for you to get to know the best of our land and our gastronomy. You can do them all or combine the ones you like the most.
Get ready for a mouth-watering journey through the Basque Country!
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"We are in the middle of peak tuna season in the north, an exceptional catch credited as the flagship of the summer season in our kitchens”
White “bonito” fish is closely related to Basque fishing tradition and culture. Our companions, fishing vessel “Itsas Lagunak” (friends of the sea), trail the cool northern waters catching tuna, one by one. They respect the fishing ritual that has been tradition for centuries in the Basque Country so much so, they are credited as one of the best suppliers of “Bonito del Norte” (literally tuna of the north).
June to early October is the season that tuna migrate north to cooler northern Atlantic waters, notably the Cantabrian coast, to reproduce and find food (anchovies, chicharros and verdeles). The tuna is captured by selective fishing at the height of its flavour, tender texture and exquisite flavour.
A true delicacy for the soul but also recommended from a nutritional perspective because of its high content of omega 3 fatty acids.
The “arrantzales” (fishermen) of the “Itsas Lagunak” boat, capture the tuna one by one using fishing hooks from the side of the boat. Catching tuna individually is considered the most sustainable and ensures that each is the right quality and size. It also preserves the texture of the fish and prevents harmful by-catch and bruising from nets. Lastly, it is a respectful and beautiful way to maintain the intangible heritage that is constituted by artisanal fishing and the wisdom of our ancestors.
At SAGARDI, we make the most of this exceptional product.
For example, our “Marmitako” de bonito, an incredibly popular and typical Basque dish; a hearty boat stew brimming with flavour, born from ancient Basque fishermen while out at sea.
Another classic dish from our Basque cuisine is “Bonito con tomate”; traditional, simple and tasty. A perfect option to enjoy the delicious, smooth, white meat of the bonito combined with seasonal tomato sauce and fresh Ibarra chillies. Summer is a time when you really get to appreciate Basque Cuisine in all its fine glory.
Off the menu, you can often find “Grilled Bonito Ventresca”, a subtle dish with a greasy touch that is a true delight for the palate. The oak charcoal grill and our classic San Sebastian are your best allies’.
Different ways to enjoy a wonderful seasonal product with a lot of history and tradition. Just some of many dishes that connect us to true Basque cuisine. On egin!
If something differentiates Euskadi (Basque Country) among the other tourist destinations, it is the strong bond with itsgastronomy. The culture, the environment, the history and the traditions are all directly connected to the gastronomy. This is the common interest that unites and gives meaning to everything related to what is ours.
The roots of the Basque gastronomy come from the most traditional customs. It comes from the arrantzales (fishermen), who spent months - even years - at sea, to bring quality fish to our land. But also, from the baserritarras (villagers) who dedicate themselves solely and exclusively to baserri (the farmhouses) so families can eat fresh meat, cheese and vegetables.
And what can we say about the hard work of the harvest, the sacrifice that the grape harvest entails and the collection of it to strive for good, quality wine. This dedication proudly gives us internationally recognized wines, like the famous txakoli which is a credit to the Basque Country and a fine example of a winery with its own identity.
Care and nurture for the product is one the things that has remained in the Basque culture since ancient times. The most majestic recipes come from the Basque Country that have been passed down from generation to generation so that today, they can be tasted and enjoyed in the most renowned restaurants by the best chefs.
The txikiteo (bar crawl), popular carnivals, going out for pintxos, the acclaimed txotx (opening the tap of a huge barrel on its side and capturing the cider that pours out from metres away), the fairs with talos and txakoli and enjoying typical food like txistorra (Basque sausage) in Sasikoipatsu … are just some examples of how we socialize in the Basque Country. All the festivities and celebrations are linked to gastronomy - the solstice, the town festivities, the saints and patrons … and even the San Lovers, everything is celebrated with quality food.
Some ways have changed, but not the core. The producers continue to have the same delicacy with the product, the recipes maintain their authentic essence and dedication and our gastronomy continues to be a delight. The identifying values of Basque gastronomy have passed the test of time and it shows. Don’t miss out - (watch video)
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Let this recipe from Grandma teach you how to make a classic green sauce.
A front-runner of traditional Basque sauces to compliment your fish dishes this summer.
The green sauce is ideal to accompany white fish dishes, such as hake, shellfish and molluscs.
It is a primitive sauce, very authentic with a long history in Basque culinary tradition dating all the way back to 1723.
Therefore, it is recognised as a notable sauce of the gastronomy and still the tradition in many household kitchens since our ancient ancestors cooked it over hot coals and a slow fire.
Although there is no exact science on how it should be made and cooked (it can be adapted to each person’s liking), it is important to achieve a well-blended sauce.
*we buy our fresh clams in the Galician Rias Baixas*
Farmhouse tomatoes from our gardens, green Ibarra chilli peppers, marmitako (fisherman’s stew) with "bonito" fish from the port of Hondarribia … the new summer menu is here!
Summer is a time when you really get to appreciate Basque Cuisine in all its fine glory. At SAGARDI Group we take full advantage of this season during a time when the region's rugged coastlines and charming land provide some of the most wonderful produce. Some of the greatest and most iconic dishes include a variety of tomatoes at their peak, green chilli peppers from Ibarra and white “bonito” fish marmitako.
The green Ibarra chilli peppers are the true star in the Basque gardens, a wonder that the Basque people await every summer as a gastronomic treasure. These come from our own gardens and are collected before they reach 12 cm so they can retain all their tenderness.
Appreciated for their taste, our green Ibarra chilli peppers are pan fried for a mere 30 seconds and simply seasoned with salt; an uncomplicated and favourite summer starter.
The mild temperatures and abundant rainfall of the Basque Country are the ideal conditions for our own SAGARDI gardens to produce a variety of the best tomatoes. Handpicked at the peak of their ripeness and maturity so they can be presented at our tables packed with punches of intense, succulent and sweet flavours.
Marmitako with white “bonito” fish is another incredibly popular and typical Basque dish that is one of our favourites, quite simply; a fisherman’s hearty boat stew brimming with flavour. Renowned for its simplicity and richness, marmitako uses potatoes, vegetables and freshly caught white “bonito” fish from the ports of Hondarribia.
The white “Bonito” fish that is caught and served in our restaurants comes from our trusted fishermen in the Basque Country on their boat “Itsas Lagunak” (Friends of the Sea). Each season, they provide us with the best “Bonito del Norte” from the Basque Country.
Desserts stick to the Basque Country traditions too and we are in love with our new seasonal dessert; Roasted peaches from Tudela stuffed with vanilla cream and served with lemongrass ice cream. On egin!
Brothers, Ion and Mikel Zapiain, heirs of the emblematic Basque cider house Zapiain and friends of ours, have recently been recognised among the 50 young people destined to revolutionise the world’s gastronomic scene.
The prestigiousThe World’s Best 50 Restaurants
has celebrated the hospitality industry for many years, annually ranking the best restaurants in the world. Now the organisation is looking ahead recognising future stars in the gastronomical world with a new list –50 Next. A list of young people under 35 selected as “they are already changing the world of gastronomy in unique and interesting ways”.
These brothers from Gipuzkoa in the Basque Country have been selected among 700 strong applicants from 34 countries. As producers, they are recognised for continuing the innovative
philosophy that has always characterised this family; investigating and diversifying a product with roots and tradition. According to 50Next, the brothers “are a discovering the true potential of a drink that has traditionally been associated with old customs and local traditions”.
Beyond the interesting initiatives that this new generation bring us such as “Bizi-Goxo” ice cider; or “Joanes de Zapiain”, it should be noted that the commitments to innovation has not made their feet leave the ground as they have continued to successfully produce cider with as much care and tradition as previous generations.
The story is long and the history between the Zapiain surname and the Sagardoa dates back to 1595 where there is evidence of a judgment in favour of the Donostia City Council over Juanes de Zapiain. The judgement indicates that “as long as he does not come and live within the walls of this city and was her neighbour, her ciders are not allowed”.
The classic cider, the Zapiain that we have been serving in Sagardi for more than 25 years, is made only with Basque apple juice. It does not contain sulphites or preservatives, the touch of carbon dioxide that you can somewhat taste is the result of its own, pure fermentation.
So, it is a pure and authentic product, a cider true to its origin from over 500 years ago.
The ideal companion next to a grilled old beef txuleton, fried cod or a traditional “Roxario” style cod omelette.
A long and refreshing drink with the flavour of a job well done, which can be enjoyed at Sagardi.